This “Trash Can” Hack Is a Brilliant Way to Combat Impulse Buying

published Aug 28, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Morgan Smith, a home decor content creator, has come up with a technique that will help anyone overcome impulse buying—or what she calls “Target Trance” — when going through the retailer’s decoration aisles.

First, what is Target Trance? According to Smith, it’s a term she uses for products you buy because it’s beautifully curated and styled at the store, “but then you get the decor piece home and it’s just… meh?”

She added: “It frustrated me so much when I used to pull out my holiday storage containers and not like some of the decor that was only a year or two old. The impulse buying had to stop. It was honestly just wasteful, so I started ‘taking it to the trash’.”

Well, she didn’t actually toss her decorations in the garbage. What she’s talking about here is the anti-impulse buying strategy she now uses. Here’s how it works: Smith gets an item she likes, but doesn’t immediately go to the cashier. Instead, she heads to the trash can aisle, where she puts the aforementioned item on display. 

This forces her to be more thoughtful and more intentional for two reasons. One, the beauty of the curated displays no longer has an effect on the product. The now-dull surroundings of garbage bins force the item to shine on its own. Second, the delay allows her to get over the initial surge of excitement after seeing the product, and in effect, lets her make more objective decisions.

The result: more savings and fewer regrets.

Most of her followers, of course, loved the technique. “This is as hysterical as it is ingenious. Who would have ever thought! But it’s so, so clever. Good thinking!!” reads a comment. Another person joked: “I wish I woulda done this with all my ex-boyfriends.”

What’s great about this strategy is that it also works in other places like IKEA and Costco. As for thrift stores, there are no trash can aisles, but one follower said that its equivalent is “the dressing room with dust bunnies on the floor.”

You can follow Morgan Smith on Instagram to see more home decor tips.